These are the essential resources I’ve used to sell 70,000+ fiction books over the last six years without an agent or publisher. Current as of May 15, 2021.
NOTE: I only list services I’ve actually used.
Listed price is for a complete cover (eBook and print-on-demand). Prices fluctuate due to exchange rates; they might also change depending on complexity or in the future. These are listed from most expensive to least; this is not a quality ranking. These designers can also create assets like Facebook banners, logos and so forth. Note that some designers have long lead times, so contact them a minimum of 3 months in advance of your publication date.
- Bookfly Design ($799)
- Damonza ($599)
- eBookLaunch ($499)
- Bukovero ($350 for eBook only)
- Aero Gallerie (formerly Hynds Studio) ($350)
- Beetiful Designs ($300 for eBook only)
- 99Designs ($299+)
- Natasha Snow ($330)
- MIBLART ($199)
- Go On Write ($45 pre-mades)
ILLUSTRATED COVER DESIGN
- Tom Edwards (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was ~$950) (sci-fi)
- Alberto Besi (varies based on complexity of illustration; my cover was $800)
- I recommend Vellum ($29 per book/$249 for unlimited use). Beautiful, simple and intuitive eBook & print formatting with a single click. It’s Mac only, but I used to run it on Windows with MacInCloud ($30 for 30 hours). The latency made that a little choppy…so I bought a Mac specifically to run Vellum. It’s that good.
- Scrivener ($40 Windows/$45 Mac) and Adobe InDesign ($30/mo) can also format eBooks and print interiors, but are far less user-friendly.
- Reedsy and Draft2Digital both offer free formatting tools.
- Ampersand Book Interiors (~$125+ per format) can create custom eBook/print formatting that matches your cover branding.
- Mailerlite (free up to 1,000 subscribers; $15/mo for 1k – 2.5k subscribers): cheap, and solid if all you need to send are broadcast emails.
- Convertkit (free up to 1,000 subscribers; $49/mo for 1k – 3k subscribers): I use this for all my lists; well-designed interface and great feature set for more advanced users. Only downside is price.
BUSINESS & MARKETING TOOLS
- Book Report (free up to $1,000 in royalties per month; $19/mo thereafter): a much improved dashboard for displaying/analyzing your Amazon KDP sales data that requires no installation.
- Book Funnel ($5/mo): seamlessly delivers your free books (e.g., reader magnets) to email subscribers. Vital for building your mailing list. Also offers opportunities to join cross promotions with other authors.
- Story Origin ($10/mo): similar to BookFunnel and Prolific Works for cross promotions, but with more features and a super-responsive developer who is constantly releasing updates.
- Prolific Works ($20/mo): allows you to give away free books to Prolific Works’s readers and join cross-promotions with other authors to generate mailing list subscribers.
CRAFT & MARKETING BOOKS
These lists usually devolve into useless 35 page appendixes. I’ll be frank: I read a lot of books. Most are not good. These are indispensable.
- Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
- The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
- Write Better, Write Faster (series) by Chris Fox: short, punchy reads for indie authors. The first six are worth picking up.
- Bookbub Ads Expert by David Gaughran: the definitive guide to Bookbub Ads.